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Tension (1949)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 25 November 1949 (USA)
A meek pharmacist creates an alternate identity under which he plans to murder the bullying liquor salesman who has become his wife's lover.

Director:

John Berry

Writers:

Allen Rivkin (screenplay), John D. Klorer (based on the story by) (as John Klorer)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Basehart ... Warren Quimby
Audrey Totter ... Claire Quimby
Cyd Charisse ... Mary Chanler
Barry Sullivan ... Police Lt. Collier Bonnabel
Lloyd Gough ... Barney Deager
Tom D'Andrea ... Freddie
William Conrad ... Police Lt. Edgar Gonsales
Tito Renaldo Tito Renaldo ... Narco
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Storyline

A mousy drugstore manager turns killer after his conniving wife leaves him for another man. He devises a complex plan, which involves assuming a new identity, to make it look like someone else murdered her new boyfriend. Things take an unexpected turn when someone else commits the murder first and he becomes the prime suspect. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In Every Two-Timing Kiss You Will Feel... TENSION See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 November 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tension See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$682,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Portions of André Previn's music score were recycled as title theme for same studio's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). See more »

Goofs

When Claire is flirting with Junior and orders dessert, there is an advertisement for Dad's Root Beer on the wall behind her. The word "beer" is marked out. Then when she flirts with a customer, the sign is not marked. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lt. Collier Bonnabel: I'm Collier Bonnabel. I'm a cop. I'm a Lieutenant Detective in, uh, Homicide. That's a fancy name for murder. We get plenty of tough cases. Solve most of 'em, sure. But how?
[begins to stretch and relax a rubber band]
Lt. Collier Bonnabel: I only know one way, one thing that breaks 'em wide open - tension. I work on people, on suspects. Play up to them. Play up to their strengths, pour it on their weaknesses. Romance 'em or ignore 'em. Kiss 'em. Press 'em. But whatever way, keep stretching them.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Major noir classic with a spectacular Audrey Totter performance
22 December 2007 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This is in a category of its own. The central role of a bad, bad girl is played by Audrey Totter with such spectacular power and intensity that you would think it would break the projectors in the cinema. She was like an earthquake on screen. She was also well supported by superb performances from Richard Baseheart as her husband, Barry Sullivan as a sardonic detective, and the elegant Cyd Charisse who exerts her powerful charms in a non-dancing role. This film does not conform to any strict formulae of noir construction, is almost quirky, but is a genuine classic of the genre by breaking so many of the rules. There is no murder for absolutely ages, but we forget that we are waiting for it, so mesmerised are we by Totter. The balance of attention shifts from character to character, and there is a lot of misdirection of attention to keep the audience guessing. This is absolutely not a film about a murder, which in itself is incidental. This is a powerful psychological study of extreme character types. There are absolutely superb minor touches of direction throughout, and John Berry, the director, would have had a future as one of the top directors in Hollywood after this if he had not been blacklisted. William Conrad (later 'Cannon' on TV for 102 episodes) was just as fat a cop then, and Barry Sullivan actually pulls a bag of popcorn out of his hand, gives it to a passing stranger, and pats Conrad on his bulging stomach to admonish him. The film is full of little things like that which are creative embellishments added by a director with his imagination and his eye both in top gear. The best touch of all is the stretching of a rubber band throughout the film by Barry Sullivan, who says 'everybody has his breaking point', and snaps the band. In the scenes with the greatest tension, the band comes out and gets stretched and stretched. In one amazing scene, Sullivan and Totter even stretch the rubber band together with their fingers both entwined in it absentmindedly, while the psychological tension builds. This use of the rubber band throughout the film as a motif actually works, because it is done so well and with such extraordinary subtlety. All the suspects are under tension bigtime, hence the title. There are many good lines, such as Sullivan saying to Totter: 'I've got a file on you going back as far as you can remember and into the future as far as you dare imagine.' They end up kissing. This film positively reeks of classic noir elements, while being put together in an original manner. We have irrational passion, greed, amorality, lust, love, betrayal, selfless devotion, murder, as well as an inability to kill despite wanting to. It's all there. Just add DVD and stir.


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